Any excuse is a good one to visit Dingle and when it involves a Food Festival and an invitation to participate in the judging of the inaugural National Irish Food Awards, also known as Blas na hÉireann, how could anyone resist? Certainly not me and Saturday found my tastebuds at the ready to sample some of the enormous variety of foods entered into a series of blind tastings. Without the context of packaging and placement, it was a real opportunity to see what was out there on the Irish market. And it wasn’t all, ahem, work. I also got to meet fellow bloggers Val and Ollie, catch up with my former teacher Rory O’Connell, wander around the variety of food stalls scattered around the town, eat a first class meal at seafood restaurant Out of The Blue have several afternoon affogatos and sample a variety of the Mexican flavours on offer at Murphy’s Ice Cream (the Guacamole was a very surprising hit.)
Amongst the winners are a lot of old favourites like Benoit Lorge‘s chocolates (his Rum Bitter won Silver in the chocolate category), Green Saffron‘s Rogan Josh spice blend (frequently used in this house), The Apple Farm‘s refreshing and classy Sparkling Apple Juice, East of Boston‘s Tantalising Toffee Sauce, David Llewellyn’s intense Balsamic Cider Vinegar, Just Food’s organic soups (as served in URRU) and breads from both the Blazing Salads Bread Company, a stalwart of my Dublin life, and the traditional Barron’s Bakery in Cappoquin. All the results of this year’s awards are below and are on the Blas na hÉireann website: congratulations to all the winners!
1. Drinks and JuicesBronze: Llewellyn’s Orchard Produce – Double L Bone-Dry CiderSilver: The Apple Farm – Sparkling Apple JuiceGold: Porterhouse Brewing Co. – Red Ale2. Chutneys and Relishes Bronze: Govenders Indian Delight – Sticky Chilli JamSilver: Nature’s Bounty – Curraghchase RelishGold: Janet’s Country Fayre – Hamburger Relish3. Sauces and DressingsBronze: The Scullery – Tomato, Chilli & CorianderSilver: The Just Food Company – Organic Basil PestoGold: The Scullery – Brandy Butter4. PreservesBronze: Saucy’s – Pure Passion fruit CurdSilver: Saucy’s – Luscious Lemon CurdGold: Follain Teo – Raspberry Jam5. Bacon & Rashers Bronze: Brady Family – Oak Smoked Ham on BoneSilver: Finola Food Ltd – Clove Baked HamGold: Clonakilty Black Pudding – Dry Cured Bacon6. Speciality Meats Bronze: Brady Family – Connemara Air Dried HamSilver: The Just Food Company – Organic Chicken Liver PateGold: German Butchers Shop – Kassler (mild cured smoked pork)7. Sausages Bronze: Jerry Kennedy Butcher – Blasket Island Lamb Sausage with Rosemary & GarlicSilver: Mallon’s – Superquinn Leek & Black pepper SausagesGold (tie): McGeough’s Connemara – Gluten Free Smoked SausagesGold (tie): West Cork Salamis – Pork Meat Garlic & Herb Sausage8. Black & White Puddings Bronze: Rudd’s Fine Foods – Superquinn Sliced White PuddingSilver: Clonakilty Black Pudding – Black PuddingGold: Kelly’s Butchers Newport – Black pudding9. Seafood (Sponsored by Dingle Seafood Soup Co.)Bronze: Iasc Ui Mhathuna Teo – Hot Smoked MackerelSilver: Iasc Ui Mhathuna Teo – Oak Smoked Organic SalmonGold: Kenmare Bay Seafoods – Mussels marinade of honey & herbs10. Cheeses Bronze: Avondale – Superquinn Vintage CheddarSilver: Dingle Peninsula Cheese – Kilcummin cow milk with fenugreekGold: Dingle Peninsula Cheese – Semi hard cow milk with seaweed11. Breads Bronze: Tom’s Bakery – Brown Granary BreadSilver: Blazing Salads Bread Co – Organic Rosemary & Olive Oil SourdoughGold (tie): Barron’s Bakery – Country style breadGold (tie): Blazing Salads Bread Co – Organic Ciabatta12. Yoghurts/Smoothies Bronze: Wild Orchard – Raspberry & Cranberry SmoothieSilver: Wild Orchard – Strawberry SmoothieGold: Killowen Yoghurt – Superquinn Blackcurrant Yogurt13. Honey Bronze: Meadowsweet Apiaries – Chunk HoneySilver: Molaga Honey – Honey JarGold: Sunhill Natural Honey – Heather Honey Jar14. Confectionary Bronze: Deliciously Different Cake Co. – Mini Cinnamon and Caramel BitesSilver: Tom’s Bakery – Almond TartGold: Sallymills – Bakewell Tartlet15. Desserts Bronze: The Scullery – Plum PuddingSilver: East of Boston Foods – Tantalising Toffee sauceGold: The Foods of Athenry Ltd – Christmas Pudding16. BiscuitsBronze: Cisti Gugan Barra Teo – Cranberry and White ChocSilver: Cisti Gugan Barra Teo – Chocolate ChipGold: Cisti Gugan Barra Teo – Hazelnut and Chocolate Chunk17. Ice Cream (Sponsored by Murphys Ice Cream)Bronze: Boulabane Farmhouse – Rum & Raisin Ice CreamSilver: Silver Pail – Superquinn Mango SorbetGold: Burkes Farm – Ice Cream Apple Crumble Ice Cream18. Chocolate (Sponsored by Murphys Ice Cream)Bronze: Skellig Chocolate Co – Dark Chocolate Vanilla GanacheSilver (tie): Butlers Chocolates – Organic 70% with ginger piecesSilver (tie): Lorge Chocolatier – Rum BitterGold: Butlers Chocolates – Organic 70% with mint pieces19. Newcomer/New product Bronze (tie): Green Saffron Spices Ltd – Rogan Josh SpicesBronze (tie): Wonderfoods – Superquinn Irish Leaf SaladSilver: Llewellyn’s Orchard Produce – Llewellyn’s Balsamic Cider VinegarGold: Minihans – Savoury Quiche with Spinach, Goats Cheese & Tomato20. Healthier Options Bronze: The Just Food Company – Organic Cranberry and Almond MuesliSilver (tie): The Foods of Athenry Ltd – Spelt BreadSilver (tie): The Foods of Athenry Ltd – Sugar/Dairy free Fruit BrackGold: Largo Food Exports – Tayto Velvet Crunch21. Soups (Sponsored by Dingle Seafood Soup Co.)Bronze: The Butlers Pantry – Warmed smoked haddock chowderSilver: The Just Food Company – Organic Winter Minestrone SoupGold: The Just Food Company – Organic Spicy Lentil Soup22. Ready Meals Bronze: Mash Direct – Carrot, Parsnip & TurnipSilver: Mash Direct – Broccoli with a Cheese SauceGold: Kenmare Bay Seafoods – Mussels marinade of honey & herbs23. Best of Gaeltacht *Follain Teo – Raspberry Jam24. Grand Champion **Dingle Peninsula Cheese – Semi hard cow milk with seaweed* Highest score of Gaeltacht entries** Highest score of all products